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Aparicio Is New Extension Educator

Published: Friday, September 6, 2019

Virginia Aparicio recently joined Elkhart Extension as the new health and human sciences educator. She grew up in Walkerton and currently lives in South Bend.

"I was immediately attracted to Extension because it offered me the opportunity to apply my college education and experience to bring about a positive and a better change in the lives of people," Aparicio said. "Extension enables me to develop and implement programs that I feel will help address key issues here in Elkhart County. Extension also supports community collaboration allowing me to work together with multiple sectors to promote health and health equity."

After receiving her undergraduate degree in health administration from Indiana University Bloomington, she went on to obtain a master's in public health from the University of New England.

Before being welcomed in Elkhart County Extension, she worked as a community health educator by helping patients with chronic disease navigate and access community services and resources, and go on to adopt healthy behaviors. Aparicio also served as a Spanish medical interpreter for the hospital. As an insurance navigator at St. Joseph Health System, she assisted patients in enrolling in health insurance and government assistance programs as well.

Aparicio brings a strong background in public health that she says has prepared her to work towards creating a healthy community. She will serve the community through research and promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

"Although I don't have an agricultural background, I strongly believe that people of all backgrounds and perspectives bring opportunities for new skills and innovation that can benefit Extension, but more importantly the community they serve," she said.

As the new health and human sciences educator, Aparicio's role is to build relationships in the community. She said she will need to collaborate with local agencies, partner organizations, businesses and schools. These resources will help her determine the needs in Elkhart County.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and building relationships and enjoying all that Elkhart County has to offer," Aparicio said.

The position requires her to plan and implement sustainable programs that help address the community's needs while influencing attitudes, teaching skills and encouraging behavior change, according to Aparicio.

"As a health and human sciences educator, my goal is to improve the quality of life of individuals and families in Indiana through delivering research-based information and programs that educate on the health, food, money and family," said Aparicio.

When she's out of the office after work hours, Aparicio said she loves reading books on personal development, playing board games, walking her dogs, dancing Zumba and watching reruns of The Office.

Aparicio enjoys helping other people accomplish their goals and teaching them ways to improve their lives.

"Working as a health and human sciences educator there is a great sense of fulfillment that comes from empowering others and giving people the tools they need to discover what they have within themselves to help themselves," Aparicio said.

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